(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker delivered an impassioned speech on the third day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings Wednesday.
As Jackson wiped away tears, Booker applauded Jackson for her historic nomination to become the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court and her path to getting there.
“You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere has done, by being like Ginger Rogers: ‘I did everything Fred Astaire did but backward, in heels,'” Booker said.
Despite a long list of credentials, Jackson has faced a barrage of questions from Republicans trying to brand her record as “soft on crime” or entrenched in liberal activism. Some Republicans continuously interrupted Jackson’s responses to their questions or yelled in their arguments against her confirmation or credentials. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham stormed out of the hearing and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called her a liar during their questioning.
In his speech, Booker said the harsh line of questioning against a Black woman didn’t come as a shock.
“It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom, not to see my cousins — one of them who had to come here and sit behind you,” Booker said. “She had to have your back. I see my ancestors and yours.”
“Nobody’s gonna steal that joy,” Booker said in his speech. “Nobody’s taking this away from me.”
Some online celebrated Booker’s speech, including Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts, the author of, “Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration.”
“Watching Booker express Black joy, in that space, felt like an affirmation for all the times we’ve all had to laugh or dance or cry out in exaltation in the face of racism and white supremacist systems,” Lewis-Giggetts told ABC News. “Even in the midst of clear racism and racist dog whistles, Booker could look into the face of Judge Brown-Jackson, see the long line of Black people who came before her, and rejoice with her.”
She said it felt like a reminder that no matter what systems of oppression tell them, “we are worthy and valuable.”
April Reign, a former lawyer and now racial justice activist, co-founded the advocacy organization She Will Rise in an effort to get a Black woman on the Supreme Court. She says Black women are no stranger to the barriers and treatment that Jackson is facing.
“These attacks, unfortunately, feel very familiar to me and millions of Black Women in this country, who have had to hold our tongue, steady our gaze, and endure without anyone speaking up on our behalf,” Reign said. “As Black women, we have carried this country on our backs. It was gratifying to hear Sen. Booker acknowledge that, and remind Judge Brown Jackson, and all of us, that joy cometh in the morning.”
She said she will be forever grateful that there was a Black man in such a position of power to stand up for Jackson and Black women everywhere.
Booker ended his speech by calling Jackson his “harbinger of hope.”
He continued: “This country is getting better and better and better. When that final vote happens, and you were sent on to the highest court in the land I’m going to rejoice.”
“The greatest country in the world the United States of America will be better because of you.”
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